Restaurant Eugene sits only across a condo-complex breezeway from its sibling eatery, the pig-parts powerhouse Holman & Finch, but the mood inside the door is a world apart. Whereas H&F is often crowded and raucous, with an edgier vibe as the hour grows later, Eugene is unflappably serene and dignified, perhaps even a tad stuffy. It also has possibly the smallest bar - six seats and a small SRO area - of any liquor-serving restaurant in town. But both joints are serious about their cocktails. Like H&F co-owner and Eugene alum (and CL columnist) Greg Best, Eugene barkeep Jeff Hagley uses fresh ingredients, homemade infusions and a great deal of spirituous creativity in coming up with his featured potions.
Hagley, who joined Eugene about two months ago, says manager Gina Hopkins asked him to come up with a variation on the classic Sidecar, which blends brandy, Triple Sec and citrus. With an eye toward the approach of fall, Hagley decided to use Calvados, a type of brandy from Normandy made from pressed apples rather than pressed grapes. Instead of the standard Cointreau, he selected the more intense Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec, then blended those with a house-made cordial infusing simple syrup with lemon and lime juice. For another kick of autumn flavor, he adds a tiny amount of allspice liqueur - any more would overpower the drink. Finally, he floats wisps of lemon zest and dusts the rim of the cocktail glass with sugar mixed with hand-ground cinnamon.
The result is a full-bodied drink with fruity and spicy notes, perfect for sipping on a crisp evening. But where does the name "DCV" come from? In keeping with the French ingredients, Hagley named his concoction after the classic 1950s-era Citroën, known as the "deux chevaux" for its modest two-horsepower engine.
Fortunately, the DCV has considerably more pick up than its namesake.
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